Everybody’s got their demons to deal with. This common saying is fairly easily absorbed when it is intended, or taken, as a metaphor. It is the actual discussion of demons that gets people all stirred up. Let’s do it anyway.
The journey we are taking together, I have previously described as an interplay between circumstances, self (or soul) and the spiritual realm. I wanted to address the spiritual part of our struggles in a separate post before I start to integrate it into the bigger conversation.
Let me make a few direct statements here.
1. Dealing with demonic spirits is Biblical.
2. People get weird around this topic in two ways:
a. They ignore or deny the existence of demonic spirits
b. They get overly focused on demonic spirits and believe that the whole of the human struggle is caused by demons.
3. Most of the language people use in discussing this topic bothers me, because most of the words used in the conversation trigger ideas and pictures I would like to dispel.
4. I can’t come up with words besides the most common ones….but I keep trying.
So let me give you a few words to ponder:
Demon: Hollywood has done us a great disservice (well, actually several, but that is another discussion) in painting for us pictures of demons and exorcisms. Neil Anderson says that if we could see demons, they would look like little tiny things with huge megaphones. Their power is in their ability to convince. Like a bee, they are more afraid of you, than you are of them. Especially if Jesus lives inside of you.
Demon-Possessed: This is actually not a biblical word. I know it is in your English bibles, but it does not occur in the original language. The words in the original language speak much more of influence, and not at all about ownership or inhabitation. Influence; in the same way that effective advertising can get you to spend money that you shouldn’t, other voices in our mind can convince us to choose, act, or feel in ways that are not consistent with our true identity. Possession is a word that refers to ownership, and if you are born again, you are decisively owned by the King of the universe.
Cast out: I know, I know, we all get the same picture…some loud confrontation, or forceful battle of the will between a guy in a collar, and a demon, while some hapless, and powerless victim rolls around completely out of control of their senses. Again biblical words here have a different connotation. The words that are translated “cast out” in the New Testament have the meaning of tearing or expelling. The main idea is of separation. This can be a very peaceful process infused with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness. If these words are not familiar, these words are the Fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5.
Deliverance: A common religious word referring to the expulsion of demons from their human “hosts”. Again, this is a biblical word, but I cannot find a single place in scripture where the word “deliverance” refers to the expulsion of demons. Most of the time this English word occurs in scripture, it refers to the protected, delivery of people from one state or condition to another, like the Israelites being delivered from slavery. The Greek word actually has an even more significant meaning and can be translated, saved, healed, or set free, or prospering. The fundamental meaning of this Greek word (Sozo, or Soteria) is to restore one to the condition of God’s ideal design.
All of these definitions can be summed up to say, that it is Biblical, (and helpful) to separate ourselves from the influence of demonic spirits, but this should never be a primary focus, and should be considered as part of a much larger process. This is one part of the process of God restoring you to the condition and state for which He created you.
OK, I feel better now that I got that off my chest. Now let’s talk about the issues.
This interplay between our circumstances, our soul and the spiritual realm now looks like this.
At every stage we walk between two Kingdoms. Second Corinthians 10:3-5 says it this way; Though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh, but rather our weapons are divinely powerful for the pulling down of strongholds. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity in obedience to Christ...
In the midst of our circumstances, and the ways that we speculate about our circumstances, the spiritual realm would like to give input. We were made to receive input and be empowered by the spiritual realm. Living in unbroken unity with God, both the direction and the empowerment of our lives was intended to come from our willing agreement with, and submission to the Spirit of God. Because we are a material and intellectual culture (and by this I don’t mean “rich” and “smart”) we define and interpret reality through certain inputs and processes. We define reality based on what we can observe or interact with through our five senses (material) and how we process these sensory inputs in our mind, through rational thought, deduction and logic (intellectual). Now notice the description of strongholds in the previously referenced verse. “…speculations and every lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God…”. This refers to the very channels and processes by which we take in and define our reality. This means one of the best ways to influence us, is to work on What we see and How we see. Every good advertiser knows this, and so does the kingdom of darkness.
Two key concepts in our dealing with the spiritual realm, and therefore, demonic forces on the earth.
1. Human agreement empowers one kingdom or another on the earth,in our soul, and in our geography.
2. The battle consists of using our will to choose which voice we will listen to with in the midst of our circumstances.
Yes, I said, “which voice we will listen to.” In every circumstance of your life, both God, and the kingdom of darkness would like to speak into your thoughts. Here is where many get confused. When I say “voice“, I do not necessarily refer to a foreign, invasive set of words in your mind. Now some people experience this, but many “hear” their own voice. Thoughts in their mind that sound like themselves. Sometimes, people “hear” not a set of words, but a sense, or a mental image. Either way, I am referring to the “process” moment in our own soul when input comes from the spiritual realm. We must learn to choose, and not to simply operate daily on whatever our default setting has been.
The New Testament principle that I think we struggle to understand is the concept of taking every thought into captivity. I fear that most of the time we consider this to be simply self-will, and mind control. We must remember that the verse quoted above does not say, “taking every though into captivity to your ability to control your thoughts…” but rather it says “…every thought into captivity in obedience to Christ.” Here is what that should look like.
An event happens, and the immediate default setting kicks in, “…I knew it, nothing ever works out for me….”, “why do people always hurt me…” “…where is God, I think He has abandoned me…” All these and hundreds of more possibilities of how the kingdom of darkness would love to inform your speculations. But imagine for a moment there is another participant in the conversation. Imagine that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. So we invite His input.
“Lord, I am hearing this in my mind, or thinking this about what just happened…what would YOU say about this…?” Now stop and listen. If the thing you have been hearing, says that God is not involved, you may have to tell Him that you have been hearing that He is not involved, and that you know this to be a lie. If you have believed and agreed that God is not involved, then it is very difficult to hear God speak to you in the midst of your agreement with the lie that He is not invovled. Just acknowledge it, and call it the lie that it is.
We win many battles simply by choosing. Not choosing to try harder, but choosing which voice we will listen to and receive input from in the midst of our circumstances.